Labor Certification

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Special Recruitment for College and University Teachers

The Department of Labor makes the labor certification process easier for colleges and universities that sponsor faculty who perform classroom teaching. The DOL refers to this procedure as special recruitment or "special handling." The DOL does not provide a definition for "classroom" teaching, so the door is left open to interpretation. Many immigration attorneys point out that the DOL regulations do not specify that the teaching must take place in a classroom setting; therefore, "clinical" teaching of medical students and residents, where the clinic or hospital serves as the classroom, is acceptable.

Under the labor certification process for college and university teachers, the hiring standard for evaluating U.S. workers more closely follows "real world" recruitment procedures where the most qualified applicant is hired for a position. It also allows a college or university employer to use the results from its prior competitive recruitment procedure that resulted in the hiring of the international faculty member currently occupying the position. The prior recruitment should be in the form of an advertisement that was published in a national professional journal. In order to take advantage of prior recruitment, the labor certification application must be filed no later than 18 months from the date that the faculty member was selected to fill the position. The selection date is normally considered to be the date of the applicant's offer letter.

If the employer previously conducted a competitive recruitment campaign related to this faculty position, the Department of Labor will require the employer to provide the following evidence and documentation:

  • Copy of the professional journal advertisement for the faculty position with the date of publication.
  • Written report that includes:
    • the number of applicants who applied for the job opportunity,
    • specifics regarding the recruitment undertaken such as where and when recruitment advertisements were placed, the number of applicants selected for interviews and how they were screened, etc., and
    • the lawful job-related reasons why the international faculty member is more qualified than each of the U.S. workers who applied for the job.
  • Evidence of any other recruitment efforts such as advertisements in professional newsletters or journals, posting notices, etc.
  • Written statement of the international faculty member's educational and professional qualifications and academic achievement.
  • Copy of the job offer letter

If the department has not conducted a competitive recruitment procedure, then it can opt to conduct re-recruitment by placing an advertisement for the job opportunity in a national professional journal and following the institution's usual recruitment process for faculty. The ad should include the job title, duties, requirements, and other elements normally contained in an ad of this nature (employer name, contact person, etc.). There must be a waiting period of at least 30 days after recruitment begins before a labor certification application can be filed with the Department of Labor. When the recruitment process is completed, the employer must prepare the documentation referenced above.

After recruitment has been conducted and all of the appropriate documentation has been obtained, a labor certification application is filed electronically with the Department of Labor. The date that the DOL officially receives the labor application is referred to as the applicant's "priority date" and determines when a visa will be available. Once the labor certification is approved, the employer can proceed to the second step of the permanent residency process.